Yoga Healing Pain

Emma Forbes

Is the claim “yoga healing pain” a cliché? Well, we will see about that. I have experienced pain at different points in my life. When I was a child, I learned how a wound on the knees could hurt. I also happen to know how it hurts the self esteem when other kids tease you for being on the heavy side.

I also know how it bruises the self confidence for not being gorgeous and popular in school. My experiences in life led me to understand what pain is. It opened my eyes to the fact that pain exists in various forms. It can be in a physical, mental, spiritual or emotional form.

Sometimes we experience each form as it is, while other times we experience two or more forms of pain altogether. It is possible to experience physical, mental and emotional pain all at the same time. As I can only speak for myself let me share with you guys my journey to healing the kind of pain that most people complain about which is a physical pain known as and suffered by many people. We are, of course, talking about “back pain.”

A few years ago I was experiencing back pain. Now it may not be such a big deal for some people, but for me it was. The pain was so debilitating for me back then that it stopped me from doing almost any of the things that normal, healthy people take for granted. It did not just hurt my back, it also hurts my sense of self worth. I felt that I was less productive, which I was not supposed to be as I am still young. Back then I thought that back pain was only something that happened to the elderly.

I had difficulty standing up after sitting for a while. Rolling over on the other side was difficult as well. The pain was just impossible. I went to see a physiatrist and was entered into physical therapy. I learned that I had “sciatica”. The back pain was due to the sciatic nerve that was stressed. The condition did improve after a week of physical therapy. But the pain wasn’t completely gone.

One day a friend of mine suggested that I should try yoga. And so I researched it on the internet. In my research I found that it offers a holistic path to healing. Yoga to heal back pain had been often emphasized in most articles. I discovered that there are different types of yoga and that there is a type for each kind of need. For my need, yoga therapy had caught my interest back then.

Without further adieu, I got myself into it. My yoga therapist, who was a registered physical therapist, introduced me to Iyengar yoga. So, we practiced Iyengar with some physical therapy in it. To my delight, my residual back pain was completely gone after a week’s time of yoga practice. But it is not only that. As I got more and more into it I noticed some other positive changes in me. I had learned to give time to listen to my inner self, and not just during the sessions. I had become more mindful of myself and of the needs of others.

One of the things I appreciated most about what the practice of yoga had made me aware of was that it taught me the virtue of patience. It helped me realize that there are things that I cannot control. I  learned that complete healing takes its own natural course. Yoga practice made this clear to me.

Due to this newly found nugget of wisdom, I found that it also helped secure my sense of self worth on days when I was not able to meet my highest efficiency rating due to things beyond my control. Yoga healing pain is indeed truly holistic. I know this as it did not only heal my back pain, it helped heal the “whole” me as a person.

Although I have been healed from my sciatica, yoga practice has become a natural part of my life. Through the need for healing I discovered that yoga is not merely effective for that. Life has a lot to offer, be it ups or downs. And pain is only one of those downs. And as I said earlier, there are many forms of pain. So, at some point in our life we all are going to need healing in one form or another. And the best way to deal with that is to follow the path to holistic healing. This way it does not only heal the main source of the pain, but it helps heal our total being.

Of course it is inevitable that we will get sick or have another bout of back pain for as long as we live. It is natural as well that we sometimes forget what we have learned from our past journey to healing. And so, I too, sometimes forget what the practice of yoga has taught me about the virtues of patience. In my eagerness to practice more yoga poses, I sometimes forget to practice patience and take things at their own, natural pace. I really ought to remember to listen more often to what my body is trying to tell me. Instead of focusing I neglect the emphasis on correct alignment over the number of poses I want to do. This is one sign of ego ruling over patience that, as a result, can hurt my body along the way.

Yoga healing pain is true, but it can worsen your pain if you let your ego rule over you. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, there are various types of exercises that can strengthen your back and abdominal muscles. However, pushing it too far can worsen the pain and slows down the process of healing. I discovered this the hard way when I did not listen to my body and let my ego rule over what I had learned as the back pain was there again to bother me.

The question many people ask me is this: “Yoga Healing Pain – Is It A Myth Or Is It True?”

I can only speak from my personal experience and that of friends and other people which I witnessed with my own eyes. However, I have also read an article online that states that according to the Journal of Internal Medicine as well as from a study done by the University of Washington, yoga poses can help give relieve to back pain. This result holds also true for the American Council on Exercise from what I have read. In a research carried out by the Harvard Medical School, results revealed that Iyengar yoga can relieve back pain. All of this clearly confirms what I have experienced myself.

The bottom line is this… the benefits you gain from yoga practice are beyond just yoga healing pain. The healing process is a journey. For as long as we live we will need healing at some point in our lives, no matter which form the pain materializes itself in, but the path of yoga prepares us to better deal with it.

Yours, Emma Forbes

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Bio of Craig Oster, PhD

25-year survivor of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) & Co-founder / Scientist / Advocate at THE HEALERS campaign.

In 1994, at the age of 30, Craig Oster was given the “death sentence” diagnosis of ALS, better known as “Lou Gehrig’s disease.” Even though Craig’s physical functioning was slipping away, he went on to earn a Ph.D. in clinical psychology in 1996. Dr. Craig entered hospice in late 2008. Dr. Craig’s fierce holistic quest turned his condition toward healing and he was discharged from hospice on May 30th, 2009.

Dr. Craig co-founded THE HEALERS Campaign on New Year’s Day 2012 with a mission to:
  • Demonstrate as much wellness as possible using his integrative approach focused on diet/nutrition, mind/spirit, and physical exercise
  • Inspire people to constructively approach whatever “hand that they have been dealt in life”
  • Conduct innovative ALS scientific peer-reviewed research that has the potential to enhance the wellness and quality of lives of people with ALS and their caregivers.

Over 50 renowned integrative medicine doctors, other health professionals and scientists have joined Dr. Craig’s ALS scientific research and holistic health educational campaign advisory team.

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